The Sandman

Opera by Robert Wilson and Anna Calvi, based on the eponymous story by E.T.A. Hoffmann

Premiered on May 3, 2017 at the Ruhrfestspiele Festival, Recklinghausen, Germany and on May 20, 2017 at the Schauspielhaus Theater, Düsseldorf, Germany

The Sandman is based on the eponymous short story by E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822), one of the masters of German Romanticism and Gothic horror tales. It triggered Sigmund Freud to explore the protagonist's unconscious fear of castration ("The Uncanny"), and became inspiration and subject of many other works, most famously the "Olympia Act" in Offenbach's opera Tales of Hoffmann. In this production, Robert Wilson worked for the first time with the British dramatic rock singer/songwriter Anna Calvi. Previous productions of dark and 'Gothic' fairy tales by Robert Wilson include The Black Rider (Hamburg, 1990) and Peter Pan (Berlin, 2013).

He is a wicked man, who comes to children when they won’t go to bed, and throws a handful of sand into their eyes, so that they start out bleeding from their heads. He puts their eyes in a bag and carries them to the crescent moon to feed his own children, who sit in the nest up there. They have crooked beaks like owls so that they can pick up the eyes of naughty human children.
— E.T.A. Hoffmann, "The Sandman" (English translation by John Oxenford)
The cast skips between grotesque and horror. There’s a fine line between laughter and terror. Perhaps Sandman will become another hit like Black Rider. This horror musical certainly has the musical potential.
— WELT am Sonntag, Germany

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